From Dusk Till Dawn Season 1 Review “Self-Contained”

In the latest episode of “From Dusk Till Dawn,” it was border-crossing time, and you just knew it wasn’t going to go off without a hitch, but here is where the show actually gains in unpredictability. In the aptly-titled “Self-Contained,” things did indeed go sideways, and how. That Richie would continue to be an issue, veering wildly between the coolly rational and completely irrational and out-of-control was to be expected. That Seth would continue to be the comparative voice of reason, reeling Richie in when necessary and knocking him out if all else failed was also expected.

What was not, however, was that Freddie would show up at the border after knocking out a colleague and get into a full-on shoot-out with members of Carlos’ cartel at the check point. Or that Carlos himself would show up, kill the person in charge and assume his form after doing some snake-like absorption thing, then essentially wave the Geckos and company through to the other side!

I’m not sure how plausible all this was, but it was admittedly more exciting and action-packed than the original sequence in the movie version, that’s for sure. Then again, we are talking about a show that has vampire snake gods or whatever that can apparently do some sort of shape-shifting thing, so plausibility isn’t exactly high on the to-do list.

We also finally got the whole story on what happened with Jacob and his wife that fateful night, and it was a bit anticlimactic, to be honest. Basically, it didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know, save that his wife tried to jump out of a moving car and when Jacob reached to pull her back in it caused the car to flip and crash, and she didn’t die right away but in horrible pain. This was, of course, the moment Jacob decided to renounce God and turn his back on his faith, so it was a key moment, but it didn’t quite address why his wife was acting the way she was, either.

Was it drugs or was she mentally unstable? Obviously, the woman had issues or she wouldn’t have tried to jump out of a moving vehicle, but still, I expected a bit more after all the build up, so that was a little disappointing, if I’m being honest, and definitely underwritten, though Patrick was in fine form all throughout the scene. At least the kids know the truth finally, so there’s that.

That was really about it, but it was a solid, taut episode overall, with some decidedly loopy, out-of-nowhere elements, plus the by-now expected pop culture references, which included Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” Khan of “Star Trek” fame, “Tokyo Drift,” a possible Carrie Underwood shout-out (“Let Jesus Take the Wheel”) and my personal favorite, when Kate asked Richie if he knew about Moses, and he said: “I know the Chuck Heston version, which is the only one that counts.” Damn straight, Richie!

There was a fairly tense Mexican stand-off both in the RV and at the border, and that snake absorption thing was out of nowhere and pretty nifty, even if I’m still a bit thrown by the Fez-as-deadly-drug-kingpin thing. I also liked the rogue element of Freddie going off the grid by knocking out his colleague, breaking out of custody twice and finally throwing caution to the wind and actually swimming across the border to get his men! And, of course, who wasn’t happy to see the famed Titty Twister finally make an appearance, complete with the gaudy sign and the, ahem, titular declaration “Open From Dusk Till Dawn.”

All in all, a decent episode, even if they were stretching things a bit to get an entire episode out of it. I’d say that the original film sequence was tenser overall, but then it was relatively short compared to this, so it had that going for it. Still, even if it didn’t warrant the expanded running time quite as much as last week’s action-packed episode did, it was still relatively entertaining and had enough surprising turns to keep one’s interest, so I’ll give the show a pass this time. Not in the least because we’ve finally reached our destination.

The real question is, with five more episodes to go, will the show be able to extend the events of the latter half of the movie without seeming like it’s spreading itself a bit too thin? After all, once the vampire action begins, the movie pretty much doesn’t let up for the rest of its running time. I can see them postponing the action one more episode, as we get to know the denizens of the bar, but after that, it’s going to be interesting to see how they sustain things another four episodes.

There’s always the possibility that the show may open things up, plot-wise, sooner than later, laying the ground work for a future season in the process, which could be interesting. Overall, I can’t say I’ve had much of a problem with the way they’ve chosen to extend things thus far, even if the show does occasionally seem a bit stretched too thin at times.

Still, that’s to be expected, what with the whole overarching idea to stretch a movie-length idea out into a series in the first place. If they don’t allow room for changing things up, where will they go once they’ve reached the end of the movie? So, some plot elaboration is fine, and I don’t dislike what they’ve done with it so far.

Yes, some of the acting is a bit shaky here and there, especially amongst the relative newcomers, and some of the action is a bit hard to believe. But this is not a show looking to be realistic, it’s a show looking to be entertaining in a very specific way, and it’s a way that appeals to the sort of audience that would watch this in the first place. So, to that end, it’s essentially delivering the goods. It is what it is, and what it is, is good old fashioned, drive-in worthy trash-TV that is fun, mindless entertainment. What more do you expect, really, from a show inspired by a movie like “From Dusk Till Dawn”?

What do you think of the show thus far? Do you think they should beef up the mythology more? How about straying that much further from the source material? How do you think they will sustain the final five episodes? Will they still adhere to the main plot points? Will Richie die? Or Scott? Or Jacob? Will they turn into vampires? Or something else? Will they continue to exploit the whole shape-shifting gambit? Will Carlos betray the boys? Will the boys betray the Fullers? How do you think the season will end? Sound off below and join me next week for our first look inside the famed Titty Twister!